The actor was working on the movie Dangerous Waters in the Dominican Republic when he died in his sleep, his publicist told NBC News. He is survived by his 23-year-old daughter, Karsen, whom he shares with ex-wife Michelle Grace. He was engaged to Jacy Nittolo.
The New Jersey native is best known for his role as Henry Hill in 1990’s Goodfellas. In September 2021, Liotta looked back on the movie that helped skyrocket his career, telling The Guardian that he never planned on becoming an actor until a girl he was interested in told him to audition for school plays. “I thought I’d be in construction,” he confessed.
Though his list of credits is lengthy, Liotta knew he couldn’t shake his Goodfellas legacy. “If you got one movie that people remember, that’s great. If you got two, that’s fantastic,” he told the outlet, joking that his daughter might be the only person who didn’t love his performance. “Well, she wasn’t into my voiceover so much. She was like, ‘Oh Dad, will you shut up already?’”
The iconic crime drama was directed by Martin Scorsese, who Liotta never collaborated with again after the Oscar-nominated flick. “I don’t know [why], you’d have to ask him,” the Field of Dreams star said. “But I’d love to.”
Before Goodfellas, Liotta received a Golden Globe nomination for playing Ray Sinclair in 1986’s Something Wild. More recently, he appeared in Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story and starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the NBC drama Shades of Blue. The police procedural ran for three seasons between 2016 and 2018.
“I was in movies [and] when I started, if you were doing a television show or commercials or something, you were at the end of the line,” Liotta told IndieWire at the 2018 ATX Festival, reflecting on how he landed on the small screen. “The films were drying up and these people starting going into [TV]. Karl Malden — an unbelievable actor who was in On the Waterfront — he’s doing Streets of San Francisco, but it was toward the end of his career.”
The Place Beyond the Pines actor said it was widely believed getting a gig on TV after working in film meant “your career was over,” but he “loved” the experience. “I’m hungry to do another 13-episode type thing,” he said at the time. “I’m truly, truly gonna miss doing it because it was a great, great character.”
Liotta starred as Matt Wozniak, a lieutenant who is the main target in an FBI anti-corruption investigation. Lopez, 52, played Harlee Santos, a corrupt detective working as an FBI informant. The Hannibal actor was endlessly impressed with the Grammy nominee, teasing at ATX that it was “f–ked up” the show was coming to an end.
Ahead of his death, Liotta starred in 2021’s The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos. He recently wrapped production on the Elizabeth Banks-directed film Cocaine Bear and was set to star alongside Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley in an upcoming horror movie with the working title The Substance.
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